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Workplace Research Reveals Key Considerations When Offering Schedule Flexibility

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Companies are embracing new ways of working, but are they ready to ditch the traditional eight-hour workday? Research from talent solutions and business consulting firm Robert Half shows just over four in 10 senior managers (41 percent) give employees the ability to choose when they work. And 27 percent of those respondents don’t mind if their direct reports put in fewer than 40 hours a week, as long as the job gets done.

Managers most likely to offer flexible schedules work in:

  • Large companies with 1,000 or more employees (44 percent) 
  • Marketing (48 percent), legal (42 percent), and administrative (41 percent) departments 
  • Hybrid teams, where some employees work in the office and some work remotely (45 percent)

Barriers to Enjoying the Benefits 
While some employees may have complete autonomy over their schedules, that doesn’t mean they’re slacking off—or reaping the rewards. Despite the newfound freedom, in a survey of more than 1,000 workers:

  • 72 percent say they need at least eight hours a day to get their job done. 
  • 43 percent report attending more video calls now than six months ago. Employees overall feel more than one-third of time spent in these meetings (34 percent) is wasted. 
  • 48 percent never completely disconnect from work during business hours and feel obligated to respond to messages and requests immediately, even during breaks.

“While managers are increasingly embracing flexible schedules, they don’t always have full insight into their team members’ responsibilities and workloads,” says Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald. “When employees have too much on their plates, the option to work anytime can create more stress than relief.”

McDonald adds, “Everyone plays a part in combatting the pressures of an ‘always-on’ culture. Workers should speak up when they feel overwhelmed and set boundaries. And leaders should promote wellness policies and programs, be empathetic to their employees’ needs, and bring in extra support when possible.”

The online surveys were developed by Robert Half and conducted by independent research firms. They include responses from more than 2,800 senior managers in finance, technology, marketing, legal, administrative support, human resources, and other areas at companies with 20 or more employees (collected June 4 to July 1, 2021), and more than 1,000 workers 18 years of age or older (collected Aug. 12-18, 2021) in the U.S.

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.